The History of Branding

With the mass media explosion of the 21st century it is now important than ever to make sure your branding is on point. Consumerism is now bigger than ever and doesn’t look like it is going to slow down any time soon. Although the means in which branding is communicated has changed, the basic principles behind it have remained the same. From the mass production boom of Victorian era all the way through to the digitalisation of the 21st century we’ve put together a timeline of the history of branding.

The Very Beginning

The word brand derived from the Nordic word brandr – to burn as farmers burned a mark into their livestock as a symbol of ownership with each farm having their own specific symbol. Each mark had to be simple, unique and easily identifiable, all traits which can still be applied to modern day branding.

19th Century

The 1800s was the century where branding really kicked off. The introduction of mass production and large overseas shipments meant that producers had to distinguish their products from others. This was the birth of branding as we know it. Producers had to come up with ha symbol or mark which was exclusive to their products. These marks were then added to products and burned onto their crates. Fast forward 50 years and by the end of the century these marks were not solely used as a means of identity but also as symbol of quality which in turn drove up prices of goods which were deemed a higher quality. In 1870 it became possible to trademark products, ensuring brands themselves became valuable.

Media Explosion

The 20th century changed the game for branding. With television and radios now common place in households by the 1960s, the means in which companies marketed their brands to create demand revolutionised. Companies began linking their products with feelings, an idea first coined by Edward Bernays in his book Propaganda. By associating products with ideas via media advertisements, companies like Coca Cola with their slogan “have a coke, have a smile” saw their products sky rocket in popularity. Other companies which did this highly successfully in the 80s and 90s included ‘chew for victory’ from Chewits and ‘because you’re worth it” by L’Oreal.

Social Media

The rise of social media throughout the start of the 21st century has meant that consumers are no longer satisfied or buy in to solely image marketing. Now bloggers and Youtubers play a huge part in the marketing and branding of products as well as celebrity endorsements. In terms of particular branding, simple and catchy is most efficient for social media. The new Waitrose campaign by branding experts Pearlfisher does this very well with eye-catching but simple images.


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